SOLOMON ISLANDS: Tier 2 Watch List
The Solomon Islands is a source, transit, and destination country for local and Southeast Asian men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Women from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are recruited for legitimate work, some paying large sums of money in recruitment fees, and upon arrival are forced into prostitution. Men from Indonesia and Malaysia are recruited to work in logging and mining industries and may subsequently be subjected to forced labor in industrial camps. Fishing crew members from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, North Korea, and Fiji have reported indicators of human trafficking, including severe living conditions, violence, limited food supply, and nonpayment of wages on Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessels in Solomon Islands’ territorial waters and ports.
Local children are subjected to prostitution and forced labor within the country. Children are subjected to prostitution, sometimes in exchange for money or fish, particularly near foreign logging camps, on foreign and local commercial fishing vessels, and at hotels and entertainment establishments. Some parents sell their children to foreign workers at logging and mining companies for marriage; some of these girls are later forced into domestic servitude and prostitution. Local boys and girls are put up for “informal adoption” by their families in order to pay off debts; some are subsequently subjected to sexual servitude by the adopted family or guardians, or forced labor as domestic servants. Boys are forced to work as domestic servants and cooks in logging camps.
The Government of the Solomon Islands does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Solomon Islands is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year. Solomon Islands was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and it has committed to devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. During the reporting period, the government gazetted implementing regulations for the 2012 Immigration Act, which prohibits transnational forms of trafficking, and conducted multiagency team inspections at logging and fisheries sites to detect the presence of trafficking. The government, however, did not prosecute suspected traffickers or identify and protect trafficking victims. The government also did not allocate funding for national anti-trafficking efforts.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE SOLOMON ISLANDS:
Investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish traffickers, including those exploiting men onboard fishing vessels and men and children in and around logging or mining camps or in the tourism industry; investigate forced prostitution of foreign women and prosecute their traffickers; adopt and implement proactive procedures, including provision of adequate resources for labor inspections, to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers in the fishing, logging, and mining sectors, and women and children in prostitution; support and allocate funding for victim services; institute a campaign to raise public awareness of human trafficking; recognize the government’s Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee (TIPAC) as an official entity and allocate resources to support the work of TIPAC; implement the draft national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The government demonstrated limited progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. It gazetted implementing regulations for the immigration act, which prohibits and punishes transnational forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine up to 45,000 penalty units ($6,700), or both for the trafficking of adults; and a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine up to 90,000 penalty units ($13,300), or both for the trafficking of children. These penalties are not sufficiently stringent, due to the option of paying a fine. The law also prohibits and punishes the withholding of travel or identity documents for the purpose of facilitating human trafficking; the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding two years, a fine up to 20,000 penalty units ($2,960), or both penalties. The law protects trafficking victims from prosecution for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking, such as illegal entry into the country, illegal residency or procurement, or possession of a false identification document. During the reporting year, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, recognizing the deficiency of the trafficking provisions in the immigration act, submitted a new draft law, which was approved by the cabinet. The parliament was expected to review the draft law in early 2015.
The government did not report any new investigations, and none of the 27 potential cases from the previous years led to prosecutions of trafficking offenses or convictions of suspected traffickers. The Immigration Division led multiagency team site inspections at logging and fishing companies, but did not report any suspected cases of trafficking. The government did not report training law enforcement officers or other government officials on trafficking during the year. Lack of expertise and understanding of the crime of trafficking were reported as some of the most challenging issues in combating trafficking in Solomon Islands. The government did not conduct any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government made no discernible efforts to protect trafficking victims. Law enforcement and social services personnel continued to lack systematic procedures to proactively identify victims among high-risk groups and formal guidelines to refer victims to organizations that provided services. The government continued to rely largely on civil society or religious organizations to provide limited services to victims of crime, including human trafficking, and did not provide or allocate funding for anti-trafficking efforts. The Family Support Center, an NGO, was available to provide consultations to victims of gender-based violence and government-identified trafficking victims, though there were no reports of victims receiving assistance at this center in the past two years.
The government did not identify or protect any trafficking victims and did not operate any shelters for victims. The government has the authority to provide temporary residence permits—valid for up to three months—to allow foreign victims to assist the police in investigations, though no victims were granted a permit during the reporting period. The government reported victims were able to seek compensation from their traffickers through civil suits; however, no trafficking victims have ever filed such suits. Women in prostitution may have been repeatedly arrested and prosecuted during the year without efforts being made to determine whether they were victims.
The government made minimal efforts to prevent trafficking. The government approved the national action plan to combat trafficking and appointed TIPAC as the official anti-trafficking coordinating body. The government, however, did not conduct any educational campaigns or workshops to increase awareness of trafficking. The government did not take any measures to decrease the prevalence of child sex tourism in Solomon Islands. It also took no action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor in the country. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. The Solomon Islands is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.